Bacalar is a town in the Yucatan Peninsula, and it blends interesting history with breathtaking natural beauty to offer you the perfect vacation spot. Despite its small size, Bacalar has plenty of attractions to enjoy and several activities that you can try out to make your vacation time that much more entertaining.
Let’s see what you can do in Bacalar if you decide to give it a chance during your next vacation! You will discover a place rich in traditions, natural beauty and fascinating history. And don’t be surprised if you will want to come back here for your future vacations as well.
Best things to do in Bacalar, Mexico
We recommend staying at least five days in Bacalar, Mexico if you want to take in its atmosphere and explore all its beauties. You can go to Bacalar all year round but take into consideration that temperatures exceed 85 and even 90 degrees F during summertime. The coldest it gets in Bacalas is 66 degrees F, during winter time.
1. Explore the Lagoon of Seven Colors
The Bacalar Lagoon is the Lake of Seven Colors, which is also the most popular attraction in this area. The water of this lake comes in different shades of green and blue, and you will feel like you were in the Maldives for the time you spend here.
You can hang out on the shore with a delicious drink and a snack and even catch some sunbathing time while you are doing that. But you can also explore the lagoon on a boat, with a professional local guide that will help you understand the history of the area. Your guide will also give you valuable information about the species of plants and animals that can be found here.
A boat route will take a few hours, depending on how much of the lagoon you want to see. Most of them go through the channels that pirates used in the 1600s to enter the town.
You will have the chance to swim in the clear waters of this lake as well as enjoy a magical sunset if you decide to stay in the evening. We recommend you book your tour in advance so that you can be sure you get a spot since everyone who visits Bacalar wants to explore the lagoon.
Don’t forget to specify what language you want the guide to use because most of them speak either English or Spanish.
2. Visit the Bird Island
Another notorious attraction of this part of Mexico is Bird Island. Here you will find all kinds of birds that pass through the island during their migration journey, and you will be able to observe them closely. Here, you will be able to find sparrowhawks, owls, and different kinds of parrots but also other species endemic to this area.
If you want to enjoy these birds at their best, you should visit their habitat in the morning, when they offer quite a spectacle. Besides birds, you will have the opportunity to admire prehistoric stromatolites and all kinds of exotic rocks.
Isla de Los Pajaros (Bird Island) is located just outside Bacalar, and you will be able to reach it by car. There are signs all over town that will guide you towards it, and locals will be more than friendly when it comes to offering directions.
3. Take a one-day trip to Mahahual
Bacalar doesn’t have a beach where you can go and relax but if you want that, you can always take a day trip to Mahahual. This city is about one hour away from Bacalar by car, and it offers you a great Caribbean beach to enjoy as well as plenty of tourist attractions.
Mahuahual is also hosting the Costa Maya port so, if you like to admire ships coming or leaving, you will have quite an entertaining time here.
4. Visit the nearby Kohunlich Mayan Ruins
If you want to find out more about Ancient Mayan culture, you will love to explore the Kohunlich archaeological site. This site is about one hour outside Bacalar and includes the Temple of Masks.
In Kohunlich, you will hear jungle sounds as you explore the old Mayan artifacts, and you will have the feeling of being on a movie set. The fee to enter the site is 80 pesos about $4, and you can request a guide if you want to find out more about the local history.
You can easily spend an entire day here among the old Mayan constructions and the beautiful, natural surroundings. Make sure to bring a snack and some water as you will not find many stores to get food.
5. Take your time to know the Bacalar Town
Bacalar can be a great town to explore if you are more of an urban person and you prefer city distractions. You can find interesting shops and avenues in the Magical Town, and you will not get bored here.
The town is rich in fresh foods that come from local products such as fruits and veggies. You will be able to enjoy Mexican street food like tacos or fajitas, and people are extremely welcoming. Chances are that you will make a lot of friends here as well. The town is very vibrant in the evenings and at night as the temperatures are cooler and everyone prefers to be outside after sunset.
6. Visit Fuerte de San Felipe
Fuerte de San Felipe was a fort built in the 18th century to keep pirates away from the town. Nowadays, the fort is open as a museum that you can visit for just a couple of dollars.
Visiting the museum will take about half an hour. You will experience a piece of history that will change the way you perceive the entire area. The fort is open every day, except Monday.
Plus, right outside the museum, you will find the famous letters that spell Bacalar, so you can have your iconic photo taken here as well. And speaking of pictures, you will find different spots to take artistic photos here, so make sure to bring your camera with you.
7. Try some kayaking on the Bacalar Lagoon
Even if boat tours are the most popular ways to explore the Bacalar lagoon, we recommend trying a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard. This will give you a more exciting experience, and you will be able to enjoy a water sport at the same time. The opportunities to do kayaking on such clear waters like the Bacalar Lagoon do not come across very often.
To make such options even more convenient, some hotels even offer kayaking equipment as well as stand-up paddleboards that guests can use as they please. You will also find different facilities and shops around the lagoon where you can rent such equipment.
If you want to take lessons in water sports, you can also choose to do that. Some local instructors will help you in this regard, and the fees are more budget-friendly than you would normally pay in the States, for example. So, you can also learn a new water sport while you enjoy the magical beauty of the Bacalar Lagoon.
8. Stay at the Los Aluxes
Even if you can find several hotels and accommodation options in Bacalar, Los Aluxes offers you the best experience. The hotel offers swim-up bars and hammocks for its guests to enjoy and it has a beautiful view from every room.
You will be able to admire the lagoon and the beautiful natural scenery right from your hotel. Also, shops and restaurants are within walking distance from Los Aluxes.
Find the Los Aluxes at Costera 69, Magisterial, 77930 Bacalar, Q.R., Mexico, and remember to make your booking before your trip to make sure you have a room available.
9. Enjoy the local cuisine
Bacalar, Mexico, is a food lover’s paradise. The local cuisine is a blend of Mayan, Mexican, and Caribbean flavors, featuring fresh seafood, spicy salsas, and unique spices. Some of the most popular dishes in Bacalar include cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish, served with tortillas and pickled onions; ceviche, a refreshing seafood dish marinated in lime juice and served with avocado and tortilla chips; and tacos al pastor, made with marinated pork cooked on a spit and served with pineapple, onion, and cilantro.
You can also find plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, such as tamales stuffed with beans and vegetables, and chile rellenos filled with cheese and topped with tomato sauce.
Don’t forget to try the local drinks, such as horchata, a sweet rice milk drink, and Jamaica, a refreshing hibiscus tea.
10. Go bird watching
Because the town is located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula this is surrounded by lush forests, wetlands, and lagoons, home to a vast array of bird species. Some of the most sought-after birds in the area include the toucan, the pink flamingo, the jabiru, and the parrot.
You can take a guided tour with experienced birdwatchers who will lead you to the best spots to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
11. Take a bike tour
Exploring Bacalar, Mexico, on a bike tour is an excellent way to experience the town’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Bacalar has many scenic bike paths that take you through lush forests, along the shores of the lagoon, and to historical landmarks, such as the San Felipe Fort.
You can rent a bike and go on a self-guided tour or join a group tour with experienced guides who will take you on a journey through the town’s hidden gems.
There are several bike rental shops in Bacalar, but one of the best places to rent bikes is Italia Probike. This rental shop is conveniently located on the main square in town and offers a wide range of bikes for rent at reasonable prices. They have a variety of bikes, including mountain bikes, beach cruisers, and tandem bikes, and their equipment is well-maintained and in excellent condition.
12. Go on a jungle adventure
There are several places where you can go on a jungle trip in Bacalar and the surrounding areas. One popular destination for jungle trips is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, which is located just south of Tulum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers over 1.3 million acres and is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including jaguars, crocodiles, and manatees.
Another popular destination for jungle trips is the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, which is located a few hours’ drive from Bacalar. This reserve is home to one of the largest and most important Maya archaeological sites in Mexico, as well as a diverse range of plant and animal species.
13. Attend the annual Bacalar Fair
The Bacalar Fair, also known as the Feria de San Joaquín, is an annual event held in Bacalar, Mexico, to celebrate the town’s patron saint, Saint Joachim. The fair takes place in late July and early August and features a range of activities and events that showcase the area’s culture, traditions, and history.
One of the main attractions of the fair is the carnival, which takes place in the town’s main square and features rides, games, and food stalls. The carnival is popular among locals and visitors alike and is a great place to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
14. Relax on the beaches
One of the most popular beaches is Playa del Sol, which offers a beautiful stretch of white sand and clear turquoise waters. It’s a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying water activities such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
Another popular beach is Akalki, located on the north side of the lagoon. It’s a quiet and secluded beach, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the peaceful surroundings.
Bacalar also has several private beaches, including Rancho Encantado and Laguna Bacalar Villas, which are accessible only to guests staying at the resorts. These beaches offer exclusive access to the lagoon, along with amenities such as beach chairs, umbrellas, and food and drink service.
15. Discover the Cenotes
Cenotes are one of the most unique and beautiful natural wonders in Bacalar, Mexico. A cenote is a natural pit or sinkhole that forms when the roof of an underground river or cave collapses, revealing the crystal-clear water below. Bacalar is home to several cenotes that are popular among tourists and locals alike. Each cenote is unique, and some are open to swimming, snorkeling, and diving, while others are only for viewing.
Some of the most popular cenotes in Bacalar include Cenote Azul, Cenote Negro, and Cenote Esmeralda. These cenotes offer stunning views of the crystal-clear water and the lush vegetation that surrounds them.
Bacalar has something for every type of tourist. You can choose this destination for a family vacation, a romantic getaway with your significant other, or an adventure with your group of friends. It is also a fairly accessible destination, cheaper than the Maldives for instance, but just as beautiful and fascinating.
Locals are friendly and they like to accommodate tourists the best they can. You will feel so comfortable that you will not want to leave and we are sure you will look forward to coming back to this gem of Mexico.